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The Power of Imaginative Play

June 22nd, 2017     By Dr. Connie J. Schnoes, Ph.D. | Staff Psychologist | Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health

Connecting with Kids, Early Childhood, Toddlers

Have you ever seen a child pick up a stick in the yard and suddenly wield it as a sword to fight off a band of marauding pirates? Or maybe you’ve seen a youngster build a fantastic airplane from nothing more than a boxful of colored plastic building blocks.

This is play fueled by pure imagination.

Children have the ability to create worlds of their own, where they can become a hero or a princess or a cowboy or a ballerina. Imagination is the key to unlocking the door to these worlds, allowing kids to step out of reality and into fantasy.

But is all this play-acting and pretending healthy for children?

Not only is it healthy, it’s absolutely necessary. It’s a very important developmental milestone for children to engage in imaginative play and creative play. If your child isn’t displaying pretend play that may be a red flag for his or her development. If you are concerned follow up with your child’s pediatrician, teacher or psychologist.

Besides making up their own play scenarios, kids can learn a lot from reading or having their parents read them fairy tales with plots and characters that make them think, ask questions and use their imagination to become part of the story.

One thing most of those stories have in common is some sort of adversity; life’s not always going so great and there are challenges, and many times, the characters manage to overcome those issues and good wins over evil. So, when kids are trying to emulate that or want to be like that, there are some good lessons in there that parents can focus on with their children.

So, the next time you’re on the lookout for a new toy for your young son or daughter, make it something that sparks their imagination. Pretending is a fun, natural and healthy way for kids to explore their world and others. It’s also a great way for them to learn and grow as they play. And, if you’re invited to join in the fun, don’t hesitate for a minute. Follow your child and join in the imaginative play in safe and healthy ways!

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